The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is considering changes to the Environmental Review Program to address climate change. EQB identified climate change as an important issue facing Minnesota and made it the main organizing focus for the biennial work plan. Additionally, Governor Walz directed ‘‘state government [to] work across the enterprise in a coordinated approach to develop equitable strategies that will mitigate climate change and achieve greater resilience.”

Currently, environmental review documents do not include information about a project’s greenhouse gas emissions and the relationship between climate change and other environmental impacts in a systematic way. EQB members are proposing changes that would help project proposers, decisions makers, and members of the public identify opportunities to:

  • Consider the effects of climate change on proposed projects
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Integrate climate adaptation and resiliency measures
  • Improve environmental outcomes

Timeline

  • January/February 2021: Collect written feedback
  • March/April 2021: Collect written feedback and conduct listening sessions
  • May/June 2021: Compile and summarize feedback
  • Anticipated in July 2021: Environmental Review Implementation Subcommittee considers final recommendations (moved back from June due to the volume of responses received during the engagement process).

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Draft Recommendations

Draft Recommendations: Integrating Climate Information into MEPA Program Requirements 

Recommended changes include:

  • Revisions to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet Form (page 8; Appendix A: page 14)
  • A new mandatory Environmental Impact Statement category (Page 11)

Also included are the following guidance documents that provide helpful information and identify tools for implementing the revisions to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet:

  • Guidance Developing a carbon footprint (Appendix B1: page 24)
  • Climate adaptation and resilience (Appendix B2: page 48)

Feedback Received

The Environmental Review Climate Technical Team will use feedback received during the project engagement process to develop final recommendations for consideration by the Environmental Review Implementation Subcommittee. EQB engaged Barr Engineering to compile and summarize feedback, including feedback from the listening sessions, the public comment period, the survey, and interviews.  Summary memos and all comments submitted are provided below.

Public comment period: A total of 990 comment letters were submitted to EQB by mail or email. Comment letters were assigned primary themes to assist with the evaluation. In many cases, the content of an individual comment letter contained multiple primary themes; resulting in approximately 1,115 cataloged comments. The summary memo and comment tables are now available.

Two listening sessions were held in March.  Recordings of the sessions and meeting documents can be found using these links:

The summary memo and comment table are now available.

Survey: A survey consisting of eight questions about the proposed changes to integrate climate into the Environmental Review Program. There were 496 responses to at least one or more of the questions.  The summary memo and survey rdata are now available.

Interviews: A list of 45 individuals that represented different interests from around the state were invited to participate in the interview process. There were 23 individuals that agreed to be interviewed. The summary memo and interview results are now available.

Project Team

To accomplish our goal of better transparency with our work, we would like to share that we hired Barr Engineering to support work on this project. The role of Barr Engineering is to assist EQB with carrying out its public engagement efforts and to provide technical expertise on quantifying greenhouse gas emissions.  EQB staff, the Interagency Climate Technical Team, and the Board have sole decision making authority on the design, implementation, and results of the project. EQB staff are working closely with Barr at every step of the process.  All input provided by the public to Barr Engineering will be read by EQB staff and made available to the public. Please contact Denise Wilson if you have any questions about the role of the Barr Engineering as project consultant. 

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